Tag Archives: Cakes

Forelle Pear and Almond Cakes with Muscat Wine Reduction

I saw a Forelle pear for the first time about a month or so ago at our local International Market. I must say that I had never even heard of a Forelle pear until that day. I knew of Seckel pears, but not Forelle pears. Well, of course, I had to buy a bag full and then decide what to do with them once I was home!

After some research, I did find out that they are a bit sweeter and larger than Seckel pears and their season runs from October to March. So, I decided we better cook and bake with them while we can! My husband tasted one as soon as it was ripe and he was hooked! I took a bite and they were so delicious!

I did see a few recipes online with a few types of small pears and some called for Forelle pears, however, they did not necessarily show off the pears themselves. Why slice these cute little pears on the top of a tart? I did, however, find a recipe at Epicurious for an almond cake with a poached Seckel pear tucked neatly inside. The recipe said you could substitute a Forelle pear cut in half, but why do that? I left the pear whole.

The original recipe is for making the cakes with the poached pears and reserving the Muscat reduction for another use. I made some changes and served the cakes with vanilla ice cream and drizzled both with the Muscat reduction. The pears had a delightful flavor from poaching and the cake had a texture and taste almost similar to a sweet cornbread. The Muscat reduction really added another layer of flavor to the pear cakes and ice cream.

It also would make a lovely dessert for guests since the presentation is so attractive and everything can be prepared in advance. One important note, you must serve this the same day you make it. The recipe says to serve within 8 hours. We had a few left over and tried to eat them the next day. The cake was still very good, but the pear was not very pretty on the inside, so be sure to either have enough guests to finish them off or do that yourself! 😉 Also, you would be wise to remove them from the ramekin once they are cooled, and not attempting to do it after only resting 10 minutes. They did not stick at all by allowing them to cool first.

Although the cakes were not as good the following day, I still had some Muscat reduction left, so I poured that over vanilla ice cream and we enjoyed it almost as much! I would definitely make the Muscat reduction again and serve it with the pears and ice cream as a simple and lovely dessert.

By the way, the original recipe made 12 cakes. I have changed the proportions to make 6 cakes.

Here is the recipe adapted from Epicurious:

Small Pear and Almond Cakes

Makes 6 servings

For poached pears
6 firm small Seckel pears (I used Forelle pears)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup Muscat wine
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

For cakes
3/4 cup whole blanched almonds (4 oz.)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing ramekins
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting
1/4 teaspoon salt

Vanilla ice cream (use a really good one)

Special equipment: a small melon-ball cutter; 6 (4-oz.) ramekins

Poach pears:

Peel pears, leaving stems intact, then core from bottom with melon-ball cutter. Toss pears with lemon juice in a bowl as peeled, then arrange on their sides in a 10-inch heavy skillet. Add wine, butter, and lemon juice from bowl (liquid will not cover pears) and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until pears are just tender, 10 to 20 minutes (my pears were tender in 10 minutes). Transfer pears with a slotted spoon to a dish. Boil poaching liquid, uncovered, until just syrupy and reduced to about 1/4 cup, 12 to 15 minutes. Spoon syrup over pears and cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Prepare cakes:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Pulse almonds with 1/4 cup sugar in a food processor until finely ground, then transfer to a bowl (do not clean processor).

Process butter with 1/4 cup sugar in processor until pale and creamy, then pulse in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition, then pulse in almond mixture, flour, and salt until just combined.

Lightly butter and flour ramekins, knocking out excess flour, then arrange in a baking pan. Divide batter among ramekins (about a slightly rounded 1/2 cup per ramekin), then gently nestle a pear, leaning it slightly and pressing it very lightly, into batter in center of each cake. (Cakes will rise around pears as they bake.) Reserve reduced poaching liquid for another use serve it over vanilla ice cream!). Sprinkle pears and tops of cakes with remaining tablespoon sugar.

Bake, rotating pan halfway through baking, until cakes are just firm and pale golden with slightly darker edges, about 20 minutes.

Transfer ramekins to a rack and cool 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of each cake and invert on a plate. (I let mine cool completely before removing). Turn cakes right side up and serve warm or at room temperature.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did! It is a perfect dessert for a Wintry night!
This dessert was featured on Tastespotting today!

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Filed under Almonds, Baking, Cakes, Desserts, Ice Cream, Muscat, Pears, Poaching, Recipes, Wine

Renaissance Challenge – Handbag Cake!

I immediately thought of SHOPPING when I saw the post on the Renaissance Challenge hosted by Chickenless Kitchen! The challenge was to make a food item that looked like your hobby. My hobbies used to be shopping and then cooking (in that order), but the order has now been reversed! Most of my shopping (especially these days) is spent in the grocery stores and that counts as kitchen time! My other hobby (when I am not in the kitchen or on the computer) is to go shopping and check out all the latest clothes, shoes and handbags!

After taking on this challenge, I now remember why I am not a Wilton cake baking kind of gal, however, being the kind of shopping gal that I am, I decided to take on and complete the challenge anyway! I was aware going in to this that if I was going to do a theme cake, I had to do something pretty basic. My first bright idea was a shoe cake (since awesome shoes are my favorite single item to buy), however creating a shoe seemed a bit daunting (after all, as well as not being a cake gal, I am no Manolo!). Hmmm….a handbag….now I was on to something!

So, as any good Fashionista (that is not Foodista) would know, one of the most coveted handbags on earth is a bag with the two little C’s entwined – a Chanel handbag. I figured this would be a classic shape (ie. easy to make) and most recognizable since Coco Chanel was certainly a notable figure. Even if you don’t give a flip about clothes, you probably know who she is (how about perfume and make-up?) and have to admit that she truly was a fashion icon.

The last theme type cake that I made was of Mickey Mouse for my 4-year-old son (who will be 21 this year), so you will understand my expertise level in this area. That cake was baked in one large bowl (the head) and two smaller bowls (the ears!) and it also had black frosting (yuck!). So, if you are not entirely impressed with my latest foray in to cake baking, you might now know why. I make one every 17 years!

Anyway, I wanted to put forth the effort to take part in the Renaissance Challenge. It was fun to bake the cake and play around a bit. Now I even know how to make, dye and use gum paste mix and you never know when you might need that skill again!

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Filed under Baking, Cakes, Renaissance Challenge